By: Chad Hyatt
Let us contemplate Jesus nailed to, and dying upon, the cross. Here our journey, following in his steps, stops—seemingly for good. Here, we who have taken up the cross, stand, gazing upon our Lord, crucified. If it isn’t shocking, if it does not strike us as wrong, perhaps we have not allowed our hearts to truly enter into the meaning of where we stand. For of all the things that the cross means for us—and it means everything—I am struck that what we are called to look upon is, in fact, an icon. What happened that day is itself an image, a sign—the contemplation of which can lead us truly to what it is: an encounter with the love of God. See there, his mother, grief-stricken and heart-pierced, along with the other women who have refused to abandon Jesus, even here in this place. And there, beside her, see also the beloved disciple. See the two thieves, dying beside him upon this desolate hill used for public execution. Feel the presence of the thronged soldiers, going through the mindless motions of a duty they have performed too many times to count. See the ones who have made it a sport, casting lots for his clothing. And, yes, you are right: our Lord is naked, stripped of every last shred of dignity as he dies. Feel the unease in the crowds and the curiosity of the onlookers—such macabre death is a spectacle, after all, from which we can scarce avert our eyes. And now, behold him, his tortured body, bruised and bloodied, stretched out upon the rough wood—lifted up, as he said he would be—savagely hoisted from the earth, the dark outline of the cross seeming to rend the darkening heavens. See his eyes, even now—even after all of this—full of anguish, yes, but also full of love. This is the shocking icon, the truth that somehow saves us all. Here the words that begin John’s Gospel are finished: here, now, in this awful place, the Word of God has truly become flesh and dwells among us. This Word of love is the Word of life.
Prayer: Jesus, we are here with you at the cross—and here your love will save us.